Mira Opalińska is a unique and captivating pianist, with a style that’s hard to pin down. Reconciling a classical foundation, ever-curious spirit, and natural flair for spontaneity in improvisation, her music belies categorisation. Fused with an acute awareness of space and texture, it is an approach that bears echoes of her first great influence, Bill Evans, with critics drawing comparisons to stylistically elusive artists such as Paul Bley.
A prodigious talent, the Polish-born Opalińska gave her first major solo performance in Rzeszów Philharmonic Hall aged eleven. Laureate of many international piano competitions, her formative years saw her take to the European concert and competition platform, with broadcasts on radio and television (TVP Polonia, TVP Rzeszów).
At the turn of the millennium, participation in the fortnight-long Jazz Workshop in Puławy reinforced Opalińska’s growing interest in improvisation. Following an extended period of independent study in Katowice with workshop leader Wojciech Niedziela, the teenage Opalińska accepted a place in Poland’s most prestigious jazz department at Bednarska College of Music, Warsaw, studying with Andrzej Jagodziński.
Opalińska moved to Scotland in 2006, continuing her musical studies at Strathclyde University, Glasgow, and graduating in 2010 with first class honours. Her arrival in the UK gave way to a highly active period of European and international touring (UK, Germany, Poland, China, Japan), as well as numerous broadcasts on national radio (BBC Scotland) and television (BBC Four). Particularly noteworthy among her activities at this time: Opalińska’s quartet opened for ECM artist Tomasz Stańko, ultimately leading to a collaboration and tour with Stańko’s Finnish drummer Olavi Louhivuori—a project generously supported by the Polish Cultural Institute and Polish Consulate.
Returning to Poland in 2011, Mira continues to draw on her grounding in both classical and jazz disciplines, making regular appearances at home and abroad. Among her ongoing projects is a probing chamber jazz duo with British bassist Douglas Whates. Their debut recording, Lumière, was released to wide critical acclaim and subsequently re-issued on Elsewhere Co. in 2013. Further collaborations include experimental avant-jazz improvisation with Elsewhere Trio (launching early 2015), a classical duo with Scottish violinist Feargus Hetherington, and her International Quartet featuring the aforementioned Louhivuori and his fellow Finn, saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen.
"A revelation: To Trzaskowski... Komeda... Makowicz... Możdżer... Wasilewski... continue the line with Mira Opalińska"
—Jazzwise founding editor, Stephen Graham
—BBC Radio Scotland
"Technically very able—she plays classical recitals as well as jazz—she solos without any grand displays of technique, preferring clear, melodic developments of the original themes and a refined choice of notes."
—The Herald (Rob Adams)
- Feature interview and profile in Scotland's top broadsheet.
- Opalińska & Whates tipped as one of the new bands of the year.
- International Quartet reviewed in The Herald.
- Ian Mann's insightful review of Lumière.
- Duo CD Reviewed on The Jazz Breakfast blog.
- Polish Cultural Institute video profile.
- Photo report from concert at Centrum Kultury, Mielec.